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Dream Theater
Progressive metal legends Dream Theater celebrate 20 years of musicianship with the release of Score, a 3 disc CD/DVD set that defines the band in one fitting word ~ epic. In an exclusive conversation, The Record gets drummer/founding member Mike Portnoy to look back at the journey that began when three students of the Berklee College Of Music decided they just wanted to get together and jam!

Beginnings At Berklee The journey for this band began in 1985 at the Berklee College of Music, where guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung and drummer Mike Portnoy were students. Influenced by an eclectic array of music including Rush, Yes, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Terry Bozzio, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few, the band roped in keyboardist Kevin Moore, a high school band-mate of Petrucci's, and vocalist Chris Collins to complete the set. The band’s sound was best described by Portnoy in an interview where he said, "It's kind of like taking Metallica, Rush and Pink Floyd and putting them into a microware and waiting 'til the thing exploded, and what comes out is Dream Theater."

From Majesty To Dream Theater
The band started out being called Majesty, after Portnoy’s description of the song Bastille Day by Rush. They even adopted an official logo known as the Majesty symbol, which has appeared on virtually all of their promotional material. The logo is based on the symbol used by Mary Queen of Scots, the letter ‘M’ of ‘MAJESTY’ in a highly stylized form. However, before they released their debut album, they heard from another band called Majesty that already existed, asking this new band to change their name. Even though the name was dropped, the band still retains the Majesty symbol as their official logo. It was then that Mike’s father Howard Portnoy suggested the name Dream Theater to the band. Mr. Portnoy mentioned to Mike a movie theater in California called the Dream Theater. The band liked the name so much they adopted it as their own.

When Dream And Day Unite: The Debut
1989 marked Dream Theater’s debut as a recording artist with the release of the album When Dream And Day Unite. The album was noticed but it didn’t break through nearly as well as the band had hoped. More line-up changes were also taking place at this point. Original vocalist Chris Collins had already left the band in 1986 citing creative differences and now replacement Charlie Dominici was also on his way out. The band spent two years without a permanent vocalist until 1991 when Canadian singer James LaBrie successfully auditioned for the spot. He remains their vocalist to this day. The band at this time also had trouble with their record label but they continued to build their playing skills and during this time worked on a majority of the music that would become their breakthrough second album.

Images And Words: Breaking Through
1992 was the year when Dream Theater stepped into the spotlight in a big way. Their sophomore album Images And Words released to critical and commercial acclaim. The band had a huge hit in Pull Me Under, a song that brought them heavy radio and television airplay and a bigger fan base that would become critical to their success. The album achieved gold certification in the US and platinum in Japan. Images And Words is still considered a landmark album in the development of progressive metal.

Falling Into Infinity
The band went on to release a series of albums that cemented their position as pioneers of progressive metal. Their sound was characterised by complex arrangements, intelligent, introspective lyrics, use of odd meter, and songs that were epic in length. They were not necessarily part of the mainstream music scene but continued to be commercially successful thanks in part to the exceptionally dedicated fan base that could not get enough of the music. Releases included 1994's Awake, 1997's Falling Into Infinity and 1999's Metropolis, Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory. There were also further changes in line-up. Keyboardist Kevin Moore was replaced by Derek Sherinian and finally Jordan Rudess who remains with the band to date.

Scenes From New York: The Day The World Changed
In 2001 the band released Live Scenes From New York, a 3 CD live album recorded in August 2000 in New York City. Unfortunately, in a situation that would have been impossible to predict, the album arrived in stores on September 11th, 2001 with cover art featuring a New York skyline against a backdrop of flames. After the events of 9/11 the album was immediately recalled and re-released with a revised album cover some time later. However a few fans had managed to get their hands on the original CD before it was recalled and this has since become a collector’s item.

The band continued to release more albums after this in rapid succession ~ 2002’s Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence was their sixth studio album with one disc consisting of five tracks of 6 to 14 minutes in length, and the second disc devoted entirely to a 42-minute title track, the longest song Dream Theater have written! Their seventh album, 2003’s Train Of Thought, contains seven songs. This release expanded the band's fan base even further, with listeners of mainstream heavy metal beginning to appreciate the music. 2005’s Octavarium was the band's eighth full-length release. The album contains eight songs and its title is derived from octo, the Latin word meaning eight, as well as the musical term ‘octave’, which is a succession of eight notes comprising a scale. Notably, Octavarium was the last album ever to be recorded in the legendary Hit Factory studios in New York City, home to recordings by artists such as John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and U2.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Dream Theater in the September 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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